STORAGE REVIEW: Comic Houses vs. DrawerBoxes

DrawerBoxes

Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

I’ve had a block of 15 short DrawerBoxes in the closet of my comics room for years.  I love them, they provide excellent & easy access to the comics inside and are extremely sturdy.  For me, I like this kind of storage for comics that I want to get at on a more regular basis and are not needed (for me) for the long-term storage of the bulk of my collection.  That said, for key parts of my collection (like the 1st 100 issues of Amazing Spider-Man, Justice League, or Fantastic Four), I really like to be able to get at them more easily so these kinds of boxes that slide open and closed are an ideal solution.  Recently I became aware of an alternate to the DrawerBox called a “Comic House” from BCW and this review will compare the two storage solutions.

DrawerBoxes+Bookcases

Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

In the spirit of full disclosure, a marketing person from BCW saw my Blog about storing your comics (Bags, Boards, & Boxes) and offered to send me a block of BCW’s Comic Houses for review purposes.  I’d wanted to expand my upstairs comic storage for a while, so I was game.  “Send them on over!” I told him!  I’ll do my best to give an objective review of the product here, comparing them to their main competition that I’m aware of, the DrawerBox from Collection Drawer Co.  The first thing I had to do was move the bookcases OUT of the upstairs closet to make room for more comics boxes.  The picture above is mid-way through that process.  I’ve cleared the books off most of the bookshelves and started to take the drawers out of the existing Drawer Boxes so I can move that block out of the way & get the bookcases out of the closet (the accordion doors on the closet prevent me from just sliding the bookcases straight out).

I am only reviewing short boxes here.  California closets are apparently shallower than their mid-west counterparts.  A long box will not fit length-wise in my closet and still allow me to close the closet doors, so I’m left with the short box variety as my primary option at this time, since I don’t want to make the “fashion statement” of having a block of these things out in the open, I’d prefer to keep them in a closet.

ComicHouse

Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

The BCW Comic House comes in 3 pieces: the outer shell (which is technically the “house”), an insert that makes the sliding of the inner box operate more smoothly and also serves to reinforce and make the shell sturdier, and the short box that serves as a drawer.  The Comic House shell and short box are sold separately or can be bought as a combined bundle.  The combined bundle is what I’m reviewing here.  Actually, this also comes with a lid for the short box, but since I’m not using those in this build, they’re not pictured here and I ended up not using them.

The BCW Comic Houses assemble very easily,  I was able to assemble a single unit in under 5 minutes (assembly got quicker the more I built, I was down to 3 minutes by the 15th box). This is a similar build time to what I recall from building my DrawerBoxes years ago.

BCW has a video on YouTube detailing the Comic House assembly process for interested consumers.  I watched this before assembling my 1st box and was able to easily assemble them after that.  You can see some good contrasts between the two products by watching this fan-made YouTube video detailing a short DrawerBox build.  You get a feel watching the build for the two different units about just what the differences are between them.

Box Block

Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

So, how do they compare?  The first thing I noticed was that the short Comic House is slightly smaller than the short DrawerBox.  It’s not as tall and also not as long/deep.  A lot of the size difference has to do (as far as I can tell) from the DrawerBox having an inner drawer with double-thickness (4 layers of cardboard) at front and back while the Comic House has only 2 layers.  The inner support sleeve on the drawer box goes all the way around (top, bottom, and both sidewalls) while the Comic House inner sleeve covers the back and both sides.  The actual storage space withing the two different units is pretty much the same, the short DrawerBox holds 5 or 6 more comics than the Comic House short box, about the size of one standard trade paperback.  The height difference is 1/2″, the Comic House measuring 12 5/8″ and the DrawerBox 13 1/8″.  This was actually an advantage for me, as I am able to fit an additional 6th vertical row of Comic Houses in my closet, which will let me store more comics (see picture above).

CH vs. DB

Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

One thing I immediately noticed about the normal short box inside the Comic House is that the ends don’t stay up very good.  Normal boxes try their best by providing a handle flap that folds in but that really doesn’t cut it for me.  You can see from the picture above that the DrawerBox (on the right) solves this with some nice inner box construction that provides a very clean handle area.  This is a solvable problem for the Comic House inner short box.

2Side Tape

Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

TapedBox

Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

A quick trip to the local art & crafts store (Michael’s, in my case, armed with a 40% off coupon) and I had some double-sided foam mounting tape.  A couple of short strips of this does an admirable job of holding the end flaps of the inner boxes in place.  This is definitely not something you need to do, if you load the box with comics they’ll hold the ends in place just fine, but it was a nice addition in my opinion and makes sure that the end flaps stay in place to give some extra handhold strength even if the box is not full.

Now to the next big difference: DrawerBoxes provide “BoxLox” (at an additional cost) that provide stability to the entire mass of boxes.  This makes them a unit of connected drawers instead of a bunch of single boxes stacked near one another.   As I was putting my new Comic Houses together and started filling them, I was noticing the problem that is solved by BoxLox.  As I’d go to pull a drawer out of the Comic House there would be a tendency  for the outer shell to shift around, sometimes pulling out and away from it’s neighbors.  For me this is a big problem, but again, something that’s solvable.

Box row

Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

You have two choices. (1)  Buy BoxLox from the Collection Drawer Co, drill holes in the sides of your Comic Houses, and secure them the same exact way you would with Drawer Boxes; (2) Simulate the operation of the BoxLox through other means.  I wanted to get the block of boxes built and had the double-sided foam tape that I used to secure the end-flaps in the short boxes, so I used that tape to secure the boxes to one another.  This is no doubt less structurally sound than using the BoxLox, but it seems to work pretty well.  It’s made my block of boxes a lot more solid and I can slide the drawers in and out more easily without the box I’m operating sliding around in relation to its neighbors.

I also noticed that the drawer in the ComicHouse doesn’t fit quite as snugly as the drawer in the DrawerBox.  The representative from BCW tells me that this is by design, as the shell has been constructed to house a box with the lid on it, for those that decide to use the lid (either as a top lid, or tucked under the short box for added support).  An interesting choice as I’d ideally want to pull a drawer out part-way and access the comics, not possible if the lid was in place, you would need to remove the box completely from the shell to remove the lid and then access the comics.  Leaving the lid on the box in the shell is kind of a weird use case for me.  I buy a sliding drawer box so I can open it and have immediate access to the comics.  With the lid in place I’d be using the shell as kind of a racking system.  An interesting notion, not something I had considered and not something I’d find very useful for my current usage. I’ll have to try out the “stick the lid under the box for added support” option, though,

As built, without the lid and because of the looser fit, the ComicHouse drawer is less stable when you pull it out to look through comics.  I can pull a drawer 3/4 of the way out of a DrawerBox and just leave it like that and it’s pretty stable, there’s something on the back edge of the drawer that keeps it in place within the DrawerBox shell.  If I pull a full ComicHouse drawer out 3/4 of the way it seems kind of unstable and in danger of falling out.  The entire block of DrawerBoxes seems a bit more stable as a unit than the ComicHouses, I’ll credit the DrawerBox BoxLox for this, as compared to my home-brewed foam tape solution used on the ComicHouses (though my block is way more stable than it was before I used the tape and they were just stacked next to one another).

SUMMARY:

Price: Tie (advantage to Comic House if you re-use your existing boxes)

Buying 2 equivalent “blocks” of 15 boxes would cost about the same (at prices from shopping carts on each web-site as of January 2015):
15 Short DrawerBoxes: $138.75 (3*5-packs at $46.25 = $9.25 each)
15 Short Comic Houses w/Boxes: $223.68 (15*9.45 = $9.45 each)
15 Short Comic Houses (shell only): $108.47 (15*3.59)
–> If reusing your existing boxes and just buying the shell, the Comic House become an even more attractive solution, to the point of winning the competition hands-down (if you can get them without shipping costs).

NOTE: Shipping is a HUGE part of the expense of these.  Collection Drawer Co. is in Colorado and BCW is in Indiana, so shipping to your location may be different from what it is to my place in California.  Also, getting these from a local shop will remove the shipping cost entirely, so please do your own price comparison for your locale.

For added stability:
BoxLox (used with DrawerBox): $1.25 * 10 = $12.50
Foam Core Tape (used with Comic House): $5 * 2 = $10

Based on web-site prices from each company plus shipping, DrawerBoxes are actually cheaper.  This surprised me!  That said, they are approximately the same if you’re buying a block of 15 and buy the Comic Houses on Amazon.
Price comparison may come out differently if you’re buying them at a local shop that stocks them (or if you use your existing boxes inside the Comic House shell Comic Houses will actually be a lot cheaper and may cause them to win this factor hands-down).
The real killer on the price of any of these is the shipping cost.

Sturdiness: DrawerBoxes win
DrawerBox: 10/10
ComicHouse: 8/10
I’d rate the DrawerBox with an edge on sturdiness because of the extra layers of cardboard on the front and back of the drawers as well as the extra cardboard on the inner support sleeve.  The DrawerBox also just feels sturdier as I am pulling the drawers in & out.
Note: If you are using Long Boxes, I’d personally be very concerned about handle strength pulling a regular long box in/out when it is full.  For long boxes, the reinforced handle on a DrawerBox would be a huge advantage, in my mind.

Functionality: DrawerBoxes win
DrawerBox: 9/10
ComicHouse: 7/10
Once again, I have to give the edge to the DrawerBox.  The drawers slide in and out more smoothly and also allow me to leave them in an open position without the feeling that they’re going to fall out of the shell.  The entire block is also more stable as a whole thanks to the BoxLox.

Looking at both these products, if I was buying both from scratch, I’d give my endorsement to the DrawerBox.   These are not a cheap storage solution, but they are high quality storage solution that makes your collection easily accessible.  I’d also suggest using the Store Locator link on the Collection Drawer Co. site to try to find a local retailer selling the boxes to save on the shipping.
To be clear, the Comic House is not a bad solution.  It works just fine but is a bit less sturdy/functional than the DrawerBox.  If you re-use your existing boxes & just buy the shells it can be a much cheaper solution which may easily swing your personal comparison in favor of the Comic House.  In fact, I need to add some additional long box storage in my garage and I’m strongly considering Comic House shells to house my existing long boxes.  This would be a significantly less costly solution than buying 60 long DrawerBoxes from scratch and the cost savings would easily offset the slightly lower sturdiness/functionality.  That said, I would build a raised platform to hold the entire block up off the ground.

NOTE: I was asked how regular boxes (Long or short) factor into this comparison.
In my opinion they are not a similar solution.  If you stack regular boxes more than 3 or 4 high without using some sort of racking system you risk the bottom boxes crushing under the weight.  You also have to do a lot of physical moving of boxes to get at anything that is not on top.  Personally, I have 350+ regular long boxes, so I know what I’m talking about here.  I had to build custom racking systems to hold the boxes so that I could ensure all the boxes were readily accessible.
That said, regular boxes (if you do not factor in the racking solution) are way cheaper.

Bob Bretall: bob@comicspectrum.com
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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10 Responses to STORAGE REVIEW: Comic Houses vs. DrawerBoxes

  1. Ted Litvan says:

    Bob. Thanks for your time on the thorough review of the BCW Short Comic House with Boxes. A few notes…

    You mentioned the BCW box is loose inside the Comic House. This space is designed to accommodate the lid when placed in the Comic House, for those that decide to use the lid (either as a top lid, or tucked under the short box for added support).

    When comparing the BCW Comic Houses and Drawer Boxes, you highlighted the DB locking system. However I believe you omitted this added expense from the pricing on the cost comparison.

    Regarding the shipping price, orders directly from BCW are sent from Indiana. Shipping cost varies based on the recipient’s destination. Due to the size of unfolded comic boxes, shipping is naturally a challenge (although these boxes are light, both UPS and FedEx factor-in the scale of parcels for shipping costs). BCW always recommends consumers shop their local shop to save on shipping expenses and to support their shop.

    Thanks, Ted at BCW Supplies

    • Re: Shipping – I have altered the write-up to be fairer about the shipping cost and provide more information. ComicHouses & DrawerBoxes really come out costing just about the same if you take the shipping out.
      You cannot take BoxLox out of the equation because both solutions would equally benefit from this stability enhancing solution.

  2. Ted, I actually do mention the DB locking system in the pricing section:
    BoxLox: $1.25 * 10 = $12.50
    Foam Core Tape: $5 * 2 = $10 (and I got 40% off at Michael’s, so this was actually $6)

    The foam core tape I ended up using with the BCW comic houses was an adequate substitute but not as good as the BoxLox. I think buying/using BoxLox with the BCW shells would vastly improve their stability. Just the added hassle of having to drill/punch the holes for them.

  3. Pingback: Storing Your Comics: Bags & Boards & Boxes….Oh, My!! | ComicSpectrum – Bob's Blog

  4. Terry says:

    Bob, outstanding review. It’s unfortunate that BCW doesn’t provide a retailer location feature or even a line listing on their website.

    • Alex says:

      BCW’s Comic House system, on the other hand, IS readily available on Amazon.com with free shipping with Amazon PRIME, unlike the DrawerBoxes. Making BCW’s version MUCH easier —and cheaper — to get.

      Order DrawerBoxes’ BoxLox to connect the BCW boxes together and attach two pieces of 8.125″ x 12″ corrugated cardboard to BCW’s inner liner — adding a top and bottom to the existing sides and back panel— and you’ve got a much cheaper alternative to DrawerBoxes with 95% of its benefits. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Rack System for Comic Long Boxes | ComicSpectrum – Bob's Blog

  6. Thank you, Bob, for the thorough comparison. Knowing that you can use existing long boxes in the BCW Housing, along with free shipping from their website, helps make the decision easier for me.

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